So when I started training I felt my muscles extremely hardened immediately after a workout, my abs were like touching a wall and my biceps looked at least 10% bigger (I'm not bragging).

Lately however I get to the point where I feel complete full body exhaustion before I reach the point where I feel the extreme muscle hardening.

I workout using free weights, usually 6 exercises, each exercise in 4 sets of 5 reps. It usually takes about an hour, with my main goal being building strength. I've been doing this 3 times a week for a little over an year and a half now.

My nutrition is standard low carb diet (about 40% protein / 60% fats, I eat cake/sweets max 2 times a week no more than 100g).

So my question is can change my workout or diet somehow to increase my endurance or should I increase weights or is this simply "normal" ?


To answer the comments.

I'm currently doing: pull-ups (with a 9kg dumbbell in my feet), standing curl to Arnold press with 15kg dumbbells, squats with 90kg, lunges with 2x24 kettle bells, renegade rows with 2x25 dumbbells etc. usually exercises including multiple muscle groups.

I can't remember what I started with exactly, but I remember I couldn't to a single pull-up with my body weight only.

I rest a minute and a half between sets or 2 mins max if I'm extremely tired or am feeling slugish, but that rarely happens.

Oh and I weigh 67kg.

  • It might help if you included the specific exercises you're doing, what weights you started working with, and what weights you're currently working with, what rest times you're taking between sets, etc. Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 10:26
  • @AnthonyGrist updated question :)
    – Simeon
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 10:39

3 Answers 3


My nutrition is standard low carb diet (about 40% protein / 60% fats, I eat cake/sweets max 2 times a week no more than 100g).

Ding ding ding! We've found the culprit.

Your body relies on carbohydrate for most of its energy. If you go low-carb, you're relying on transitioning from using carbs to ketosis, where you're using fats. Many people report being low-energy when in ketosis, and even those who have plenty of energy while in a ketogenic state usually report being low-energy during the transition into and out of ketosis.

So, being low carb is probably the problem. But just as important, being low-carb and then sometimes giving yourself carbs means that you're taking yourself out of ketosis, then relying on your body to notice that the carbs are gone before transitioning back to ketosis. During those transitions you're almost certainly deprived of energy.

I'd advise either going full low-carb with absolutely no sweets, or giving up low-carb and eating moderate amounts of carbs (sweet potato, potato, rice, fruit), with particular attention towards eating enough carbohydrate before working out.

  • Yes actually now that I think of it, in the beginning I was actually extremely strict and did't eat a single meal containing carbs for over 2 weeks. Now since I' more relaxed (which is not good :D) I usually eat some sweets every 2/3 days. Sou you're probably right. I'll try cleaning my diet a bit more, thanks a lot :)
    – Simeon
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 11:59
  • +100 "spiking" treats totally defeats the purpose of the diet. If you want treats, add regular small treats keeping yourself under ~30g total carbs on a given day.
    – Affe
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 16:57
  • This advice is totally contrary to my experience. Except for high intensity workouts low carb can fuel your body perfectly well without the need to go zero carb. All that needs fixing is fueling the workout. And guess what, 'bad' carbs actually do a better job at that. I used to have the OPs problem on low carb until I completely replaced my workout day 'good' carbs (nuts and taters) with pre workout berries and during workout coconut water that both according to common wisdom and theory are supposed to be 'bad' carbs.
    – Pibara
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 19:43
  • @Pibara I don't entirely disagree with your recommendation. I particularly agree with your advice re: pre-workout fruit. (Though I rarely see those referred to as "bad" carbs, especially by people I trust.) However, I stand by the core claim of my answer: transitioning into and out of ketosis tends to make a lot of people bonk. Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 20:24

+1 zero carbs kills your energy and your mental capacity/health (your brain is the largest consumer of glucose). In the short term this is OK for gains like boot camp weight loss or training for an event, but it's no way to live well.

Avoid the soda and candy, but make room in your life for "good carbs" (longer chain) like almonds, sweet potatoes, kidney beans, cauliflower. I don't think I could live without beer, but soda is a rarity for me. Fried fish doesn't seem to add weight to me, but that and beer are about the extent of my bread intake.

Also: interval training/tabata. Your body produces different types of glucose based on how you've conditioned it (which is why sprinting is not training for a marathon and vice versa). I'd suggest borrowing a few workouts from crossfit.com (or just go to a box, I do).


Low carb is indeed a very good basis to start of from. Its however not directly suitable for doing high intensity workouts. Your body is perfectly capable of producing sugar from fat and protein and will happily store that in your liver and muscles to fuel short bursts of strength. Ones your stores are exausted however, your body won't be able to produce new sugar fast enough for you to finish your workout. With a bit of timing there is quite a lot you can do however. On workout days, try to concentrate as much as possible of your carb intake into your (pre)workout time slot. For example eat berries prior to your workout and take a liter of coconut water that you consume during your workout. On non-workout days, try to add some slow carbs to your day, as that will help to refill your muscles and liver sugar stores. Having some taters on your rest day is more than sufficient. Next to that, make sure to eat plenty of vegies to your diet. There are relatively little carbs in vegies, but there is much added vallue to adding large amounts of vegetables to a low carb diet. Half a kg of broccoli has the same amount of carbs as half a glass of orange juice for example.

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